Archive for June, 2009

By Kofi Annan, Op-Ed, New York Times, 29 June 2009

Eleven years ago when I opened the Rome conference that led to the founding of the International Criminal Court, I reminded the delegates that the eyes of the victims of past crimes and the potential victims of future ones were fixed firmly upon them. The delegates, many of whom were African, acted on that unique opportunity and created an institution to strengthen justice and the rule of law.

Now that important legacy rests once more in the hands of African leaders as they meet in Libya on Wednesday. The African Union summit meeting will be the first since the I.C.C. issued an arrest warrant for Sudan’s president, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes for his alleged role in the atrocities in Darfur.

The African Union’s repeatedly stated commitment to battle impunity will be put to the test. On the agenda is an initiative by a few states to denounce and undermine the international court. In recent months, some African leaders have expressed the view that international justice as represented by the I.C.C. is an imposition, if not a plot, by the industrialized West.

In my view, this outcry against justice demeans the yearning for human dignity that resides in every African heart. It also represents a step backward in the battle against impunity.

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The New Times, Arusha June 26 2009

Arusha — Prosecution at the Arusha based, International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (ICTR), on Wednesday, requested a life imprisonment sentence for each of the four former military officers appearing in a collective trial code-named “Military II”.

The former officers are; Gen. Augustin Bizimungu former army chief of staff, and former chief of the gendarmerie Gen. Augustin Ndindiliyimana.

Others are; former commander of the reconnaissance battalion, Major François-Xavier Nzuwonemeye and Captain Innocent Sagahutu, who commanded one of the squadrons of the unit.

All the four are accused of Genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes. While submitting the prosecution’s closing arguments, prosecutor Alphonse Van stated that the four accused played an instrumental role in planning and carrying out killings during the 1994 Genocide against Tutsi.

Van further argued that after a meeting chaired by Colonel Theoneste Bagosora, in April 1994 after the downing of the plane carrying former President Juvenal Habyarimana, the four officers had an upper hand in the massacre of former Prime Minister Agathe Uwilingiyimana.

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Mary Beth Sheridan Washington Post
Wednesday, June 24, 2009

The Obama administration stepped up its efforts yesterday to salvage a four-year-old peace accord for Sudan, convening officials from 32 countries and international organizations amid fears that Africa’s longest-running civil war could resume.

The conference came after years in which the world’s attention was focused on a separate Sudanese conflict, in the western region of Darfur. In the meantime, implementation of the agreement ending the country’s north-south fight has lagged.

“Time is urgent. It’s time to move forward,” retired Air Force Maj. Gen. J. Scott Gration, the U.S. special envoy to Sudan, urged officials who packed a conference room at Washington’s Park Hyatt hotel. They included representatives from the U.N. Security Council’s five veto-wielding powers, the foreign ministers of Ethiopia and Kenya, and large delegations from the two Sudanese sides.

The 2005 peace accord, a top priority of then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, was hammered out after 22 years of war between Sudan’s Arabic-speaking and predominantly Muslim northerners and the mostly animist and Christian southerners, who claimed discrimination.

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(CNN) — June 22 2009

A former Rwandan official was sentenced to 30 years in jail for his role in the death of “thousands of Tutsi refugees” in country’s 1994 genocide, a court announced Monday.

Callixte Kalimanzira, a top Interior Ministry official at the time, “lured” the refugees to Kabuye hill and helped “provide armed reinforcements” to attack and kill them, the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda said in a statement.

The court found Kalimanzira “guilty of genocide and direct and public incitement to commit genocide,” it announced. “By encouraging Tutsi refugees to gather at Kabuye hill where he knew they would be killed in the thousands, he abused the public’s trust that he, like other officials, would protect them,” the court said.

It also found him guilty of encouraging genocide on four other occasions in April and May 1994. The time he has spent in jail since handing himself over to the court in November 2005 will be deducted from his 30-year sentence.

Following the 1994 assassination of then-Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana, extremist militias made up of ethnic Hutus slaughtered ethnic Tutsis across Rwanda, beginning in April. Within 100 days, an estimated 800,000 people were killed.

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Vanguard, Abuja June 17 2009

Abuja — A Judge of the International Criminal Court (ICC), Justice Mrs. Akua Kuenyehia yesterday disclosed that the ICC has the jurisdiction to prosecute the masterminds of crimes against humanity taking place in the Niger Delta if Nigeria sends a petition to it for intervention.

Kueyehia is in Abuja for a two -day judicial colloquium on Reproductive Rights and the Statute of the ICC organized by the Civil Resource Development and Documentation Centre (CIRDDOC), Open Society Justice Initiative and Macarthur Foundation. She specifically said yesterday that the Court would not ordinarily intervene in the crisis in the Niger Delta except a petition was sent to the Prosecutor of the Court.

She, however, pointed out that Nigeria was a state party to the Rome Statute which established the ICC and therefore had unfettered access to the court.

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Christian Ehret, Jurist, June 16 2009

War crimes suspects entering or residing in the UK are often immune from prosecution for their acts, according to a report [text, PDF] released Monday by Aegis Trust [advocacy website]. The report refers to a “significant number” of alleged war criminals and perpetrators of genocide in the UK that hail from Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, Iraq, Zimbabwe, Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and the former Yugoslavia. According to the report, these suspected criminals often escape prosecution because such crimes cannot be tried in the UK if committed before 2001 or if the perpetrator is not a UK resident. The report argues that these policies conflict with UK laws concerning crimes committed during international armed conflicts and laws in the US and Canada, which allow for jurisdiction over such crimes based on presence in the country rather than on residence.

The report proposes to “strengthen UK law” by amending the International Criminal Court Act 2001 to allow jurisdiction over anyone who is present in the UK and to allow war crimes to be prosecuted regardless of when they were committed. Removing the current 2001 statutory bar would allow for the prosecution of those suspected of involvement in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Although the government’s position remains unclear, members of Parliament have been considering similar amendments to the law with sufficient support.

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VOA News , 15 June 2009

The Hague-based International Criminal Court has ordered the Democratic Republic of Congo’s former Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba to go on trial on five charges of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Lisa Bryant has more from Paris.

A statement from the court said that a panel of judges had found there was sufficient evidence to believe that former Congolese Vice President Jean-Pierre Bemba was criminally responsible for murder, rape and pillaging.

Those atrocities took place in the Central African Republic between 2002 and 2003. Prosecutors claim Bemba sent up to 1,500 troops to CAR to retain control of a Congolese border area.

But Bemba’s defense attorneys argue that the troops were not under Bemba’s command. In an interview with French radio earlier this year, one of Bemba’s lawyers, Nkwebe Liriss, laid the blame on former Central African Republic President Ange-Felix Patasse.

Liriss argued that prosecutors had absolutely no proof against Bemba. He said Bemba might have been in telephone contact with the troops, but that all of the orders were given by Patasse and his government. Mr. Patasse, he said, not Bemba, should be on trial in The Hague.

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